Cooling Summer Tea

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Ashley Neese
date here

I am drinking homemade tea by the mason jar. Water is great of course, but in this heat it’s been key to have another beverage to help lower my body heat.

Summer is a time when our bodies tend to generate more heat. In dry, hot climates like where I live it’s easy to get over heated. This can create anxiety, headaches, stress, breakouts, insomnia – all of which I have been experiencing to some degree lately. In order to get a handle on these symptoms and adjust to the rising temperatures I’ve been using lots of herbs that have cooling properties. 

This tea is super easy to make and you can switch out the tea bags and herbs as you see fit. I like to use Gynostemma (a Chinese longevity herb) tea bags because it is a powerful antioxidant and is great for digestion and the liver. It also tastes amazing and is slightly cooling. Chamomile or hibiscus would also work really well.

As far as the fresh herbs go I use a lot of peppermint, lemon balm, and pineapple sage. I added a couple stems from my stevia plant and a handful of goji berries (another cooling, Chinese wonder food) to give it a touch of sweetness. If you don’t have fresh stevia use more gojis or just omit it all together. You really can’t go wrong here, experiment and have fun!

Here are a short list of cooling herbs to help get you started:

  • Alfalfa//Chamomile//Chickweed
  • Dandelion//Hibiscus flowers//Japanese Honeysuckle Flower
  • Lemon Balm//Lemongrass//Passion Flower
  • Peppermint//Pine needle tea//Plantain leaf
  • Spearmint//Sorrel//Vervain

 

COOLING SUMMER TEA

serves 12

 

Ingredients

  • 3 quarts water
  • 2-3 tea bags of choice, I used Gynostemma
  • 4-6 large handfuls of washed herbs (stems are ok), lemon balm, peppermint, pineapple sage
  • 2 stems of fresh stevia
  • 1 small handful goji berries

 

Method

  1. Bring a large pot with 3 quarts of water to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the tea bags, herbs, stevia, and goji berries. Let steep for an hour, covered.
  2. Drain and pour into glass jars. Let stand until they reach room temperature then place in the fridge. Will keep for a week in air tight glass jars.
  3. Add a splash of lemon or orange juice if desired before drinking. Serve cool.

A Different Kind of Asking

Contributor: Lacy Phillips
Photographer: Lacy Phillips
date here

Last week one of my very special clients asked me: “my question is, essentially, what happens when the process of doing all the work and expansion more or less wipes away the things you thought you were manifesting? This is the situation I'm currently finding myself in where doing the work throughout the past many months has actually just opened me up to a completely new direction (some of it clear, some of it not).”

This is like gold to my eyes. We are all in different places of wanting. And all places are beautiful, because it’s exactly where we consciously are. When I was young and struggling I wanted for A LOT. And then I had the most magnificent thing happen last year. For the first time ever, I realized that I had legitimately manifested every single thing that I had ever wanted by 30. It sent me into an apathetic, depressed funk. For a while. That depressed funk was actually my ego realizing that every single exterior object, achievement, road mark it comprised for me to feel safe and in control had been met. Therefore, the funk was really an ego die-off. Ego creates personas for us so that we can feel safe, in control, and “cool”. It’s an illusion of a cocoon of protection comprised of every single thing we’ve grasped onto wanting and needing in order to feel like we are in the safe body and world that we’ve created so as to avoid ever feeling the pain that drove us into creating these false cocoons of ego in the first place.

Example. If when you were little and you were shamed by other children for being poor and trashy, your ego will do everything in its power to ensure that you are the polar opposite of what created that pain. More so, it will go to the extreme to have you chase after, acquire, and achieve everything you need in order to be classy, successful, and monetarily driven.

This tends to be the space that a lot of people manifest from (false personas - ego). Some of it is heart-centered but most is subconsciously to fulfill the illusionary protective cocoon of ego, so that we never feel pain and shame again. This is a state of being, which is PERFECTLY natural and incredibly human. Again, it’s why I don’t buy into the “think positive” rhetoric, or the, “let go of all ego thoughts”, for they are spiritual bypass tools that don't result in a constant shifted perspective.

Re-read the question my client asked. She’s in a pure state of ego die-off. This means that through expanding and doing the work, she’s having an ego clearing (of an illusion persona that defined her). And guess what that opens up to? The soul, the heart, the true path of your spirit. This is a natural change of state through working through the layers of limiting subconscious beliefs, personas, and family belief patterns that were placed on her.

When we do this work and get closer to the voice of our soul, closer to wanting from our heart, manifestations begin showing up in a whole new bigger way. Here’s a grounding and conscious visual meditation to start asking The Universe for clarity of what your soul is wanting to manifest rather than your ego.

RAINBOW ASKING

Sit on a chair. Close your eyes. Place your palms on your thighs. Focus on your breath. Now visualize drawing up red energy from the earth through your left leg, your root chakra and down your right leg. With your next breath, visualize red energy coming through your right leg now, through your root chakra and down your left leg. Do it a couple of times until that chakra feels cleansed, bright, and strong. Now repeat that same step with orange through your second chakra, yellow through your third, green through your fourth, blue though your throat, purple through your forehead, and white over the top of your head.

Once you’ve finished with the colors and chakras, place your left hand on your heart and take a moment to witness anything coming up for you – good or bad. With each thought, I want you to silently say, I love you. (This is equal parts an NLP neuroplacticity exercise as it is hippy dippy). You’re replacing your subconscious fear loop (ego) with acceptance, which creates new neural pathways.  It’s also putting you in a heart centered place. Once you feel the warm energy of your heart activated, I want you to ask The Universe for clarity. “Show me ______”. This can be what you’re calling in that still feels fuzzy. Or an answer to anything really.  

This is a great practice to get out of the illusion of your ego and briefly into communicating with your heart and soul about your true trajectory. Pictures could come to you, downloads, ideas, answers, or nothing at all. Exactly what you’re supposed to receive will present itself.

I want to echo that work is the only way to get into this constant state of being. Once you leave this meditative place, the ego kicks right back up.  

Strawberry Gazpacho

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Ashley Neese
date here

It’s been hot here so cold foods are all that I want to eat right now. I read several recipes online for strawberry gazpacho and they all pretty much use the same base ingredients, strawberries, cucumber, bell pepper, and some form of tomato.

With the heirloom tomatoes still being plentiful down here, that is what I went for in this recipe. I also let the ingredients marinate for 2 hours, covered on the kitchen counter. This is a great tip that I learned from Eleven Madison Park, The Cookbookit really makes the flavors pop.

If you like a bit of heat in this I’d add a pinch of cayenne or add a piece of jalapeño to the bowl to marinate with everything else. I’d add a piece of it at a time while blending so the spice won’t be overpowering.  Serve with a big salad for a light and satisfying end of summer meal.

STRAWBERRY GAZPACHO

serves 6

 

Ingredients

3 1/2 c. hulled strawberries

1 1/2 c. cucumber, peeled and chopped

2 medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed whole

1 T apple cider vinegar

1/3 c. olive oil

1/2 t Himalayan salt

squeeze of lemon juice

 

Method

Add all of the ingredients except for the lemon juice into a medium mixing bowl. Stir well and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 2-3 hours. Pour the contents of the bowl into a blender. Process on high until smooth. Strain it if you want it super smooth (I like it both ways). Chill several hours and serve cold with a squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil.

This soup will keep 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Probiotic Summer Smoothie Bowl

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Ashley Neese
date here

Most of the smoothie bowl recipes I see are loaded with super sweet fruits. Instead of using a frozen banana to get that perfect creamy flavor I used my homemade coconut yogurt and a tablespoon of tocos which is made from rice bran and is an excellent skin and hair food. My hair is pretty wild style these days because I am flat out refusing to get it cut. I am determined to let it grow to my waist and every time I go in for a trim I leave bummed that it’s too short. Adding tocos (it comes in a powder form and has very little taste to it) to my weekly meal plan has been helping my hair, that and He Shou Wu, a hair-strengthening Chinese herb I am obsessed with.

Coconut yogurt makes an excellent base to smoothies and trust me, you’re going to want to make it yourself. We did a photo shoot last week and used store bought coconut yogurt and it was gross. I couldn’t even bring myself to eat it. Once you start making it you will never go back! I know it sounds complicated but it couldn’t be easier.

To bump up the healing powers of this smoothie bowl I added a teaspoon of extra probiotic powder (totally optional) and some coconut oil. I went for a range of toppings that are colorful and not super sugary. I kept the toppings to a minimum because I didn’t want a million textures in my mouth and I am a big fan of less is more.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 c. coconut yogurt
  • 1/2 c. frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen mango
  • 1/2 c. nut milk of choice
  • 1 Tbsp. tocos
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. probiotic powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped raw pistachio

Method

Blend the coconut yogurt, frozen blueberries, mango, nut milk and tocos in a high speed blender. Add more liquid if it’s too thick to achieve desired consistency.

Top with shredded coconut, raw pistachios, and extra blueberries.

What Defines You

Contributor: Lacy Phillips
Photographer: Lacy Phillips
date here

When I'm working with clients, I am always silently watching for what defines them. The shackles of personas they've picked up along the way which create the box in which they live. This is not a bad thing by any means as it offers an illusionary sense of safety. 

What defines us is usually created by the programming we receive. All the subconscious beliefs along the way - from outright to subliminal (essentially everything we've been exposed to) - which tend to create the structure of our subconscious mind (beliefs). And a lot of my job is to sift around to detect which ones aren't serving the process of the individuals I work with - especially pertaining to what each are calling in. 

We all have layerrrrrrrs of persona definitions. Masks. When we begin to question them, we gently raise the lid and let just a glimmer of light in (new potential, freedom, perspective) - and more importantly an opening for new manifestations. But these ponderings of self are journeys. They aren't overnight. And A LOT of ego die-off takes place before a shift in perspective can ground.

Because we are in Gemini season - the ultimate proponent of a second perspective - it's an incredible question that might be sitting on the seat of your subconscious mind right at this very moment. What defines me? But the better question is, what doesn't define me?

I have a few clients going through this right now. It's definitely a common energetic theme this month. And It's usually in the darker (feminine) moments of life that allows space for this true self inventory. When one is feeling the urge to ask, and chisel away these personas, it's when I know that something greater, usually something the client hasn't expanded fully into is ready to come through. 

Just in the last month, I saw an incredible partner come through who didn't fit the bill at all of what one woman had been programmed her whole life to believe she "wanted" due to her upbringing. Another received a dream job at a tech company after she chiseled away the rigid persona of her identity in the "safe" medical field. Another young male client was met with the most random opportunity to live and work in New York after chiseling away the persona of his poor French childhood that didn't know such opportunities were possible (for him). 

I remember sitting on the beach five years ago and having an epiphany. I told my then partner, "I'm a mold breaker. I'm here to teach people that they don't have to live by society's mold, and in fact when they don't, and they get closer to their authenticity, that's when the real magic happens." And it's everything I've done since. I'm not a spiritual teacher. About 10% of what I teach people is even tied to spirituality. I have zero interest in that very limited box. Nor do I identify with it. I am a person that advocates for each's individuality and wholeness - which entails their unique polarity. I'm an advocate for them grounding into their most realized, owned, and confident dark and light. And I'm an advocate of supporting and processing all the limits, bullshit, and disillusionment they have been told, or continue to tell themselves along the way. 

My whole life has been one big journey of breaking the mold. I, myself, have gone through MAJOR cycles of this exact journey of breaking my molds and taking off the masks that were programmed into me. I can't wait to keep processing them until the end of time! Some I've processed along the way:

1. I'm not an academic, therefore I didn't attend college when all my other peers were; and pressure from my parents with the threat of no help was at stake. The structure of school and academia never inspired me. But I constantly self-educate. 

2. I'm not a hot chick. This has gotten me into societal confusion since the beginning of time. It's what held me back from booking most auditions - when I was an actress - when most character breakdowns read "hot chick". My picture got me in there but the moment my energy entered the room, it was deeply apparent that I resonated with more of the androgynous to masculine strong woman. This was equally confusing as a young tomboy.

3. I'm not popular. Though I've always found myself in "those crowds" wherever I go; the moment I sense that someone is genuinely not safe, doesn't want the best for me, or is mostly operating on the material plane (hustler, catty, ungrounded, fully ego driven - terminology introduced to me by Danielle Beinstein), my energy literally retreats from them. This has kept me a lone wolf in elementary, high school, in acting, to my current industry. I'm far too truthful to myself and authentic to fake that. And it leaves space for the token few genuine and ultra interesting souls to come through to form my intimate community.

4. I am not a feminist. Though, I'm FULLY aware that movement means women's equality and I'm an advocate for women's equality. The movement associated with it still feels limited when the message could be bigger and more encompassing. I'm much more interested in the in-between gender neutral, race neutral, sexal orientation neutral conversations. I believe that a matriarchal society would be just as harmful as a patriarchal society. The word feminism itself already excludes the other sex. I'm an equal-ist. I believe in the healing, elevation, and opportunity for both men and women (plants, earth, animals, and everything in between), starting with the little ones. 

5. I am not an opportunities. My whole life I've been dangled with shiny opportunities that seemed like the road less traveled; however, to my soul they would have been a road far traveled away from my essence, integrity, and authenticity. The big names of press I've turned down, the opportunity to turn this journal into a "major digital publication", a former book deal opportunity, partnerships, and partnering for events that feel fast, lack integrity and don't align with my authentic values would make the average up and coming blogger's mouth drop. 

6. I'm not poor. I grew up with two struggling young 20's parents that constantly worried about money. I continued that cycle for a long time. Until I broke it and expanded out of it.

And these are just the superficial societal ones. Not the deeply personal ones. Most of these took months to fully process the layers attached to them. I still process them. The ego, the identity they might have given me. The second guessing myself, the lack of security, the war within myself if I could really trust the Universe this time yet again (or would it be the time it would fail), the darkest before the dawn, and at last, the cocoon before the butterfly. 

My essence is all that defines me. It's all that defines us. Anything else is just a persona, a mask, a projection, and something to deconstruct. And one day when these definitions stop serving me, I'll challenge them too. We are moving energy that is constantly in flux. That is what makes me an incredible manifestor. It's what makes my clients that manifest well great manifestors. 

And the beauty of this is that every single person's essence is total unique, in need of a completely unique experience and life.

Beef Tallow (What's in it and why your Skin needs it)

Contributor: Primally Pure
Photographer: Primally Pure
date here

Fats have been a completely foreign and contradicting aspect of health throughout the last few decades – especially for Americans. Year after year we’ve been told that fat is bad, to be afraid (very afraid) and to stay far, far away.

Thankfully, times are changing and the truth is out.

Healthy fats are actually beneficial AND essential when it comes to our overall health, starting at a cellular level.

One fat in particular, tallow (specifically from grass fed cows), is a game changer. Not only is beef tallow a healthy cooking fat, but it also acts as a topical superfood for the skin!

Tallow is an incredibly nourishing, vitamin-rich form of pure, rendered animal fat that’s quickly making a big comeback in skincare. Before the influx of man-made chemicals and unnatural substances in skincare, tallow was a prominent part of skincare products developed and used by our ancestors

An article written by the Weston A. Price Foundation – a book of “recipes” for all facets of life, written by Dr. A.W. Chase, MD in 1866 – lists ten formulations of salve, eight of which contain tallow.

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Tallow contains high concentrations of fat soluble Vitamins A, D, and K (in a balanced combination with their activators) which have a profound impact on skin + overall health. Grass-fed tallow also contains Vitamin E (four times as much as grain-fed cows!), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is anti-inflammatory as well as palmitoleic acid which has natural antimicrobial properties.

  • Vitamin A – Encourages the production of collagen, elastin and healthy skin cells + strengthens tissue to keep skin firm, smooth and youthful while helping to heal skin issues from acne to aging.

     

  • Vitamin D – Contributes to skin cell development, repair, metabolism and immune function + protects and rejuvenates skin by protecting against free radicals that cause premature aging.

     

  • Vitamin K – Plays an important role in skin tone, texture and overall health + soothes skin inflammation and irritations while helping to speed up the healing process.

     

  • Vitamin E – Powerful antioxidant that repairs and reverses free radical damage + deeply hydrates and promotes healing in skin’s appearance.

     

Tallow is incredibly effective in improving skin cell health due to the similar makeup it has to our skin. Our cell membranes are made up of mostly fatty acids, with at least 50% being saturated fats. Tallow is also made up of about 50% saturated fats – with the remaining amount being monounsaturated – making it compatible with our cell biology and powerfully nourishing for our cell health.

Another indication of its positive impact on our skin is it’s similarity to sebum (the oily, waxy substance that moisturizes, lubricates and protects the skin).

Sebum is even translated to “tallow” in Latin!

Both sebum and tallow are also mainly comprised of triglycerides (which have effective emollient + skin replenishing properties).

Application tips for tallow:

  • A little bit goes a long way, as it’s super pure and concentrated (unlike watered-down lotions)
  • Tallow is safe + effective for every area of the body (even for babies!)
  • It is readily absorbed by the skin (because of their similar structure) leaving skin looking radiant, rather than oily.

Beef tallow has been a long standing tradition and powerful healing ingredient for centuries – which is why a number of our Primally Pure products contain this precious element.

Our Lip Balm and Deodorant both contain a beautifying blend of responsibly sourced animal fats + organic plant oils that work together to deeply moisturize and nourish the skin. Our skin needs these nutrients and fats together in order to stay healthy, elastic and balanced.  

Remember! It’s crucial to choose tallow from grass-fed cows, and to stay far away from tallow from conventionally-raised cows, as toxins from poorly raised cattle often settle in their fat tissue – gross!

Beef tallow for beautiful skin doesn’t seem so strange anymore does it? Try it out, your skin + whole self will be better because of it! 

Creamy Cacao Popsicles

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Ashley Neese
date here

I ate fudgesicles a lot as a kid and these taste so much like them! You would never even guess that the base was avocado, weird I know but it totally works.

These creamy cacao pops are super easy to make and you can adjust the sweetness to your liking. I used a combination of honey dates and coconut sugar. It is a perfect summer snack or dessert so grab your blender and let’s get started!

Note if you do not have popsicle molds this recipe makes an amazing chocolate pudding! Just follow all of the instructions and instead of spooning it into molds at the end just spoon into a bowl and enjoy! The pudding will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

CREAMY CACAO POPSICLES

makes 10

 

Ingredients

  • 10 pitted honey dates
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/4 c. coconut butter (not coconut oil!)
  • 3 medium ripe avocados
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 c. raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla powder

 

Method

  1. Start by soaking the dates in the 1/2 water for 30 minutes.
  2. Blend the 1 c. water with coconut butter until you have a nice coconut milk (you can also just use 1 c. of coconut milk here). Add the dates and their soaking water and blend until dates are processed well.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. I used the tamper with my Vitamix as this is a very thick mixture. Adjust the sweetness.
  4. At this point you can eat it just like chocolate pudding or spoon it into your popsicle molds.
  5. Freeze for 5 hours and then enjoy! Popsicles will keep for a week in the freezer, good luck keeping them around that long!
  6. Run the molds under warm water to loosen the popsicles, mine always get stuck in there really well.

Mindful Travel

Contributor: Lacy Phillips
Photographer: Lacy Phillips
date here

Travel is my personal licensing for slowing down, reflecting, gaining an alternative perspective, escaping, and adapting a new sense of inspiration. Max and I did quite a bit a traveling last year but we were new as a couple. Still finding our footing in being fully seen (intimacy) while remaining guarded and tough at the same time. Now it feels as if we’ve been together forever and accept all the angles of each other. Needless to say, it was hard to be completely present on those travels. The brain chemistry alternate universe of falling in love combined with a quiet buzz of self-consciousness can certainly take everyone out of the moment.

I’ve been reflecting on last year’s travels these past two weeks, and witnessing a small fear coming up. Was it because we are both so invested in our work that we found it hard to fully relish in our Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Italy experiences? Worried about the subtle disconnect I had, when we were there, vs. how it was "supposed" to feel. Therefore, two weeks ago this tiny fear reappeared fearing our upcoming trip could repeat the same numbness. NUMBNESS in those cities?!!!

Then the clarity set in. I took inventory of where we were emotionally and the stage in our relationship, and it became very apparent that we are in a completely different place this year: professionally, individually, as well as intimately. I forgave myself for being such an ultra-sensitive person and the guilt that being privileged to even have such experiences can lend to. I shifted into gratitude for the beauty of time, constant development, and vulnerability that propels these deeper discoveries and shifts. A LOT changes and a lot has changed. So, I write this memo to myself more than anything. A reminder, if you will. Reminding myself of my personal practices – pre relationship - that allow me to escape, slow down, reflect, get inspired, rebel, and gain a sense of inspiration away from home. Here’s how I like to mindfully travel.

i.               Journal. I still have my journal from my first six-week trip to Europe at nineteen. Complete with drawings, scribbles, meeting potential lovers, quarrels with my friend and traveling partner. Our totally transformative conversations and new depths of love in our relationship, as friends, for experiencing a slice of life in a place that was first for both of us and could never be replicated again by another - ever. A losing our Europe virginity together (feels suiting) and all the heightened senses experiences that come with that. A portal forever sacred and held in romanticism.

ii.              Thrift. Some of my greatest treasures are from flea markets and thrift stores abroad. From leather purses, clothes, weaves, linens to objects. They hold a story, an experience, and continue that romantic vibration in my heart/home long after.

iii.            Art. Not for the pretentiousness of it, and especially not because I’m supposed to – which can be sort of a societal travel pressure. The main reason I love to visit all types of art abroad is to satisfy the designer in me. I’m looking at colors, shapes, fonts, and statements that I can bleed into my life, work, home, and personal expression. Art around the world certainly satisfies that archetype in me.

iv.             Culture. I LOVE picking up cultural nuances. I love what the women (and men) of each culture have taught me about expression, style, love, design, and energy. I have notes and notes in my past travel journals. I always take inventory on the flight back to LA. After France: ride bikes, and walk more. Give up bras, embrace natural hair, wear a bold lip, enjoy liver, arrange wild flowers, and drink aperitifs, less is more… You get the point.    

v.             Health. What anchors me into any city is finding the health mart. It introduces me to new neighborhoods, helps me find my internal compass, and discovering new versions of my staples grounds and connects me.